The Commonwealth Fund Connection

The Commonwealth Fund Connection is as a roundup of recent Fund publications, charts, multimedia, and other timely content. 

Medicaid Managed Care Plans Owned by For-Profits Have Higher Costs, Lower Quality
In many states, Medicaid programs have contracted out the delivery of health care services to publicly traded, for-profit health plans. A new Commonwealth Fund issue brief compares these plans with non-publicly traded plans owned by groups of health care providers, health systems, community health centers, or clinics. Researchers Michael J. McCue, D.B.A., and Michael H. Bailit, M.M., found that Medicaid managed care plans that are owned by publicly traded, for-profit companies spent an average of 14 percent of premiums on administrative costs, while the non-publicly traded plans spent about 10 percent. The publicly traded plans also received lower scores for quality-of-care measures related to preventive care, treatment of chronic conditions, members' access to care, and customer service.
Realizing Health Reform's Potential: Early Implementation of Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans—Providing an Interim Safety Net for the Uninsurable
The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is a temporary program implemented under the Affordable Care Act to make health insurance coverage available to uninsured individuals with preexisting conditions until 2014, when exchange-based health insurance becomes available to all. This Commonwealth Fund issue brief examines enrollment trends and early changes to plan structures and premiums, and estimates of out-of-pocket costs by utilization pattern and type of plan.
Identifying, Monitoring, and Assessing Promising Innovations: Using Evaluation to Support Rapid-Cycle Change
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation was created by the Affordable Care Act to identify, develop, assess, support, and spread new approaches to health care financing and delivery that can help improve quality and lower costs. This issue brief reviews the mission of the Innovation Center and provides perspectives from the research community on critical issues and challenges.
New Directions in Health Care – The Commonwealth Fund Podcast: Opportunities and Challenges for Providers
Relatively little attention has been paid to the ways the health reform law seeks to strengthen the delivery system by increasing transparency, encouraging more organized care, and promoting payment reform. This installment by Martha Hostetter addresses the opportunities and challenges that the Affordable Care Act presents to people on the frontlines of health care.
Webinar on State Health Insurance Exchange Implementation
"Health Insurance Exchanges—Key Choices for States, a "Realizing Health Reform's Potential" webinar cosponsored by the National Academy for State Health Policy," was held June 7, 2011. The presentations, a recording, and answers to questions that could not be addressed during the event are now available at: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Resources/2011/Join-a-Webinar-on-Health-Insurance-Exchanges.aspx
State Health Insurance Exchange Legislation: A Progress Report
A new Commonwealth Fund Blog post by Sara R. Collins and Tracy Garber of the Affordable Health Insurance program provides a picture of where states stand in establishing the legal authority for their insurance exchanges.
30-Second State Health System Performance Charts

In The Commonwealth Fund's State Data Center, you can compare the performance of your state's health system with other states, and then download custom PPTs or export the data in a spreadsheet. Go to: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Maps-and-Data/State-Data-Center/State-Scorecard.aspx

Visit the Commonwealth Fund International Data Center
Visit the International Data Center to compare the U.S. with other industrialized countries on health system measures from the Fund's international survey. Go to: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Topics/International-Health-Policy.aspx
Medication Self-Assessment Survey for Hospitals

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has received a grant from The Commonwealth Fund to resurvey U.S. hospitals regarding their medication safety practices. ISMP will again partner with the Health Research and Educational Trust and the American Hospital Association on the self assessment survey, as it did in 2000 and 2004. The 2010 ISMP Medication Safety Self-Assessment will document the progress of U.S. hospitals during the last five years of intense national attention to medication safety and identify the impact of new and emerging challenges, such as staffing shortages, shrinking reimbursement systems, and the application of new technology.

2012–13 Harkness Fellowships Open to Applicants
The Commonwealth Fund's Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice provide a unique opportunity for mid-career professionals—academic researchers, government policymakers, clinicians, managers, and journalists—to spend up to 12 months in the United States conducting a policy-oriented research study. The fellowships are open to applicants from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The deadline for receipt of applications is September 12, 2011. For details and the application form, please visit http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Fellowships/Harkness-Fellowships.aspx.